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Local officials are optimistic that Friday’s Fourth of July fireworks display will proceed as planned.
And, the display and holiday will squeak in just a few days before fire restrictions go into effect for a portion of Archuleta County.
“We are feeling confident that we will be able to go on,” Thad McKain, Archuleta County’s director of emergency management, said Wednesday concerning the fireworks.
“As far as we know, we’re a go,” said Greg Schulte, interim town manager.
“Barring a last-minute disaster (that would tie up fire resources), we’re definitely going through with it,” Archuleta County Sheriff Pete Gonzalez said. The sheriff is responsible for allowing or disallowing the fireworks display due to the department’s responsibility for wildland fires.
McKain said Will Clark of the Pagosa Fire Protection District (PFPD) and Dennis Ford, town maintenance supervisor, did an “outstanding” job formulating a plan for the event, adding that fire crews from several agencies, including the PFPD, county and U.S. Forest Service, plan on helping with the event.
Schulte highlighted his and the town staff’s appreciation of the communication and cooperation with the county in gauging the safety of, and preparing for, the fireworks display.
The past two years, with large fires burning in the area (the Little Sand and West Fork Complex fires) and fire restrictions in place, the fireworks displays were canceled.
Any changes to the status of the fireworks display will be posted to www.PagosaSUN.com.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners approved instituting Stage I fire restrictions for private lands in the unincorporated areas of Archuleta County south of U.S. 160 and West of U.S. 84.
The restrictions will go into effect at 8 a.m. on Monday, July 7, and continue until amended or rescinded.
Following are the restrictions, as stated in the resolution instituting them:
“(a) Building, maintaining, attending, or using a fire, campfire, coal or wood burning stove, any type of charcoal fueled broiler, or open fire of any type in undeveloped areas. The fire restrictions do not include charcoal fires in suitable containers or gas grills for barbecues at private residences or fires within designated campground pits with protective grates; however, such fires should not be left unattended and should be fully extinguished after use. The fire restriction also does not include camp stoves, grills, or lights fueled by bottled gas, or pressurized liquid fuel, specifically designed for the purpose of camp cooking or illumination which shall not be left unattended and shall be fully extinguished after use.
“(b) Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, in a developed recreation site, or while stopped in an area at least 3 feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable vegetation.
“(c) Using explosive material (i.e., fireworks, blasting caps, or any incendiary device which may result in the ignition of flammable material). The fire restrictions do not include local community fireworks displays that have been, or may be, approved and permitted by the Archuleta (County) Sheriff.
“(d) Operating or using any internal combustion engine is prohibited unless it is equipped with a working spark-arresting device. The device must be properly installed, maintained and must meet either:
“i.Dept. of Agriculture, Forest Service Standard 5100-1a; or
“ii.Appropriate Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) recommended practice J355(b) and J350(a)
“(e) The following requirements apply to all welding and cutting operations. Firefighting hand tools shall be readily available. During welding, a combination of fire extinguishers with a combined capacity of 40 lbs or a pressurized water supply shall be immediately accessible. When welding or cutting in an area that a fire may ignite, a person shall be designated as a fire watch. The area surrounding the work shall be inspected at least one (1) hour after the hot work is completed.
“(f) Oil and gas operations are required to comply with the requirements of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission Rules for Fire Prevention and Protection, Rule 606A.
“(g) Any gas escaping from a well during drilling operations shall be, so far as practical, conducted to a safe distance from the well site and flammable vegetation, and burned. Operators are also required to notify Archuleta County Combined Dispatch at 970 264-2131 in advance of any flaring when it is anticipated, and in all other cases as soon as possible, but no more than two hours after the flaring has occurred.”
The Southern Ute Indian Reservation instituted Stage I fire restrictions Monday, June 23, which will remain in effect until conditions improve.
While Stage I restrictions are largely the same between agencies, differences do exist and anyone looking to spend time on tribal lands should seek out those restrictions.
Both state and local law prohibit the possession and use of fireworks.
Colorado state statute prohibits fireworks that explode or leave the ground, and under the town’s municipal code, it is illegal to use, possess or explode any fireworks.
In Pagosa Springs, possession of fireworks can earn up to a $1,000 fine and one year in jail.
As in year’s past, PSPD Chief William Rockensock has stated the department will be taking a zero-tolerance approach to personal fireworks.
Rockensock added that the entire PSPD department will be working on the Fourth of July, both patrolling and providing necessary manpower for scheduled events, such as traffic control for the parade.
Parade parking reminder
Too, Rockensock recently issued the following information concerning parade parking:
Flatbed trailers/viewing stands will be prohibited from parking along the Fourth of July parade route on U.S. 160 until after midnight on July 4.
All parking will be prohibited on the north side of the 400 block of Pagosa Street (U.S. 160) between 4th and 5th streets (Goodman’s Department Store to the bell tower park) from 2 a.m. on July 4 until after the parade.
All parking will be prohibited on 1st Street and the 100 block of Lewis Street from 2 a.m. on July 4 until after the parade.
Vehicles found to be in violation of any of the above parking violations will be towed at the owner’s expense.
These parking regulations are necessary to ensure a safe parade and detour route for this event.